The classic LP by this stellar Chicago harmony group and a monster! Heaven & Earth had a wonderful falsetto harmony sound that reminds us a lot of east coast winners like Blue Magic or The Stylistics and like some of the best east coast groups, this group’s vocals work equally well on slow ballads or faster uptempo numbers, both of which are handled extremely well on the record by producer Clarence Johnson. The bulk of the arrangements on the record were done by Tom Tom 84, one of Chicago’s true soul geniuses, and in perfect form on this record. The whole thing’s amazingly well put together for an indie soul group album and is a sure indication of the group’s later fame on Mercury.
This is a 320@ vinyl rip of the original Mercury LP including covers.
A1 Let’s Work It Out 4:56
A2 Distant Melody 4:42
A3 Guess Who’s Back In Town 6:12
A4 How Do You Think You’re Gonna Find Love 4:02
B1 Run and Tell That 5:58
B2 Dance-a-Thon 5:48
B3 No Limit 3:41
B4 You Area Part of Me 4:02
Chicago’s Heaven and Earth stand as a little known personal favorite. They were one of those soul groups that should have been major stars, but due to unfortunate timing, lousy management, a never ending series of personnel issues and other misfortunes, never managed to break through outside of their native Chicago.
Brothers Dwight and James Dukes decided to form a vocal group in 1974 while attending Chicago’s South Shore High School. They quickly recruited friends Michael Brown and Keith Stewart. The quartet subsequently caught the attention of sometimes promoter Lil Schneider who brought them to the attention of label owner/producer Clarence Johnson. Together with partner Lucky Cordell, Johnson was suitably impressed, signing the quartet to their new G.E.C. (General Entertainment Corporation) label. 1977 saw the group undergo a nasty personnel shakeup with original lead singer Brown being dumped in favor of former Soul Majestics lead Dean Williams. The move was instigated by now-manager/producer Johnson and proved extremely unpopular with the Dukes bothers and Stewart. At the same time, using his connections, Johnson arranged for the new line up to sign with Mercury.
The cleverly-titled “Heaven and Earth” found the quartet working separately with two production teams – Johnson and Ric Williams and Rodney Massey and Lawrence Hanks (the latter also contributed several songs to the project). Gifted with a nice baritone, Williams handled most of the lead vocals, with performances such as ‘Let’s Work It Out’ baring a passing resemblance to Teddy Pendergrass. Elsewhere, tracks such as ‘Guess Who’s Back In Town’ and ‘Distant Melody’ (one of the few tracks to showcase Dwight’s pretty falsetto) offered up a set of sophisticated urban contemporary-styled ballads. The lone exceptions to the formula were ‘Run and Tell That’ and the forgettable disco-influenced ‘Dance-a-Thon’. While the production and performances were impeccable (check out the vocal harmonies on ”How Do You Think You’re Gonna Find Love), by the time the album was released old school soul was all but a dead as a musical genre. Mercury pulled two singles from the album -1978’s ‘Guess Who’s Back In Town’ b/w ‘No Limit” and 1979’s ‘How Do You Think You’re Gonna Find Love’ b/w ‘Let’s Work It Out’. The first one just missed the top-40 R&B charts (it peaked at # 42), but the second failed to sell. Even worse, album sales proved non-existent, even in hometown Chicago.
But… This is a fantastic album you should listen, especially those who love smooth soul groups.
(Review by BatCat Records)
You can also listen their debut album “I can’t seem to forget you” here.